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Seattle Mariners 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz

It’s the goal for every team each season to make the playoffs in some capacity. But for the Mariners, it means just a little more since they have the longest current postseason drought in baseball. Their last trip to the playoffs came in 2001, when they won 116 games. Since then, they’ve had four different general managers, hired eight managers and produced only six winning seasons. They expected to end the drought last season, but injuries crushed their starting rotation. For two extended stretches, Seattle was without four of its five projected starters going into the season. 

With the World Series champion Astros still possessing a loaded roster, winning the American League West will be a difficult task. The additions of Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy and the emergence of Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino give the Mariners a potent lineup that features Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. But runs scored won’t matter unless the starting pitching is better than the last two seasons. 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the MARINERS

“They’ll compete for a Wild Card, but I don’t think they’ll get it unless everything breaks right. They really need pitching behind the remains of Felix Hernandez, but the good thing is that Jerry Dipoto will never stop trying to find it. James Paxton has never made 25 starts in a season, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best lefties in baseball. Mike Leake is an innings-eater; I like him in the No. 4 or 5 spot, but here, he’s a No. 2. They’ll hit, especially if Dee Gordon gets on base enough to take advantage of that thunder behind him: Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager should be a playoff lineup. Mitch Haniger will keep asserting himself, and their patience with Mike Zunino is finally paying off. I’m OK with Gordon switching to center. We all know he has the most important tool to pull it off: elite speed. There’s a lot to like about this organization. But they’ve gotta capitalize on veterans like Cano, Cruz and whatever King Felix has left.”

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New Ground

For the first time since it was built in 1999, Safeco Field will feature a completely new playing surface. Following the 2017 season, the organization decided to replace all of the grass and dirt covering the entire field. The team had replaced the infield grass and some parts of foul territory in 2012, but the rest of the field had remained untouched. The new sod forced the Mariners to cancel their annual FanFest celebration for one season. 

New Name

The 2018 season will be the last year that the Mariners’ stadium will be known as Safeco Field. After buying the initial naming rights in 1998, Safeco Insurance has decided not to renew its agreement with the Mariners, opting to use the money in different avenues. The Mariners are currently negotiating with a variety of businesses to sell the naming rights to the stadium. 

Welcome Doc

The Mariners made a major addition to their front office with the hiring of Dr. Lorena Martin to fill the role of director of high performance, which was created specifically for her. Martin will be responsible for coordinating all aspects of the Mariners’ physical and mental training approach of players and staff, including oversight of the entire organization’s medical, strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental skills departments. Prior to joining the Mariners, Dr. Martin was director of sports performance analytics for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Team Bonding

In an effort to build team chemistry and get a jump-start on offseason workouts, Nelson Cruz invited teammates to join him for a three-day workout retreat in Miami. Eight other players attended the workouts, including newcomers Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon as well as Felix Hernandez and James Paxton. The group did functional workouts together with Cruz’s personal trainer and also had team dinners to bond and welcome the new teammates.   

Fresh Start

The Mariners certainly aren’t sad that there is no World Baseball Classic this spring. Last year, they had more than a dozen player participate in the tournament, meaning stars Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura missed a large portion of spring training. Seattle’s front office was also frustrated with WBC’s lingering effects on its pitching staff, including Drew Smyly’s season-ending elbow injury, the recurring shoulder issues of Felix Hernandez and the struggles of Edwin Diaz. 

Projected Lineup

CF    Dee Gordon (R)
SS    Jean Segura (R)
2B    Robinson Cano (L)
DH    Nelson Cruz (R)
3B    Kyle Seager (L)
RF    Mitch Haniger (R)
1B    Ryon Healy (R)
C     Mike Zunino (R)
LF    Ben Gamel (L)
OF    Guillermo Heredia (R)
C      Michael Marjama (R)
INF   Andrew Romine (S)
RHP    Felix Hernandez
LHP    James Paxton
RHP    Mike Leake
RHP    Erasmo Ramirez
LHP    Marco Gonzales
RHP    Edwin Diaz
RHP    Juan Nicasio
RHP    Nick Vincent
RHP    David Phelps
LHP    Marc Rzepczynski
LHP    James Pazos

RHP    Shawn Armstrong

RHP    Tony Zych